Tag Archive: News
In our first year at dvafoto, I wrote about Kim Rugg, an artist who rearranges the letters on newspaper front pages in alphabetical order. In another imaginative approach to the object of print journalism, Lauren DiCoccio has taken to embroidering snippets of newspapers and magazines (among her many other projects) and the results create a beautiful preservation of the periodical publication. In sewnnews, DiCoccio covers sections of the New York Times in muslin and embroiders sections of the cover photos and headlines. In 365 Days of Print, she isolates small segments of the page and renders the text in thread. In National Geographics, she creates thread and fabric idealizations of issues of the yellow-bordered magazine. Throughout these projects, threads dangle and the embroidery seems almost unfinished.
“A recently married bride wanted to be photographed one more time in her wedding dress. The photo shoot on Friday wound up killing her.” -The Globe and Mail, Newlywed bride drowns, wanted one last photograph in wedding dress
Trash the Dress shoots after weddings have been popular for the last decade or so (google image search with examples), but one such photo shoot recently ended in the death of the bride. A newly-married bride was standing in a river in Rawdon, Quebec, Canada, when her wedding dress began absorbing water. The weight was too much and she slipped on rocks in the water. The photographer and two police officers tried to save the woman, but she disappeared in a stagnant section of the water downstream. Police later explained that though the current was not very strong nor the water very deep, the soaked dress became too much for the woman and dragged her underwater.
“WARCO lets players shoot and record what they see ‘through the lens’ – framing shots, panning and zooming, grabbing powerful images of combatants and civilians caught up in war. They’ve got AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades – you’ve got a flak jacket, a video camera, and a burning desire to get the story. Every game space is embedded with multiple objectives and story leads for journalist Jesse DeMarco to find – a scoop if she’s smart, mortal danger if she drops her guard…” -from WARCO’s website
WARCO: The News Game is a first-person shooter video game in which the player is a photojournalist gathering footage for television news stories on subjects similar to revolutionary conflict in Africa and the Middle East. There’s a trailer available featuring in-game footage, though the game is not available try or buy yet. Ars Technica has coverage, as does Kotaku. Coverage and reactions generally state the game is a novel take on the war/shooter genre, though in Ars Technica’s article, an unnamed publisher suggests that it will be difficult to get a game company behind the idea: “It’s a hard sell to executives to suggest an FPS with no shooting, but this is definitely the sort of game we should be making, as an industry.” The game designers have been working with photojournalist Tony Maniaty to guide aspects directly related to photography in conflict zones.
I’m intrigued, being a fan of FPS games, but it will be some work to make the game fun and interesting beyond the concept. Instead of taking part in the action, you’ll mostly be watching it. That can be interesting as an actual photographer, but we all know the boredom of waiting for something to happen. The game designers have addressed this criticism directly, telling Kotaku, “A game, by definition, has to be active, and there’s a very voyeuristic nature to this so we really wanted to make sense of gathering footage something more active: you’re actively pulling together a story and a narrative out of the pieces of the world you observe.” The game appears to have two significant modes of play: gathering footage with specific objectives (seen in the trailer which the player accomplishing the goal to “film a rebel vehicle” at :08 seconds in) and surviving while doing so, and editing together that gathered footage to create a news-like narrative of the situation. More than that, much of the game’s tension will relate to moral decisions relating to which footage or interviews best serve the viewing audience of your eventual news report.
This isn’t the first game to feature photography prominently, though it may be the first to focus on war photography. And it’s certainly a unique take on the war genre of contemporary gaming. It also seems like a powerful tool for teaching audiences about the physical dangers of conflict journalism and the moral and ethical difficulties and ambiguities of news reporting.
“Young journalists who once dreamed of trotting the globe in pursuit of a story are instead shackled to their computers, where they try to eke out a fresh thought or be first to report even the smallest nugget of news — anything that will impress Google algorithms and draw readers their way.” -The New York Times, “In a World of Online News, Burnout Starts Younger“
Newspaper and magazine websites have long been listing their most popular, most read, and most emailed stories in prominent places. Organizations such as Gawker, Bloomberg News, CNET, and others, have tied reporters’ pay, in part, to how many times readers click on their articles. This so-called Pay-Per-View journalism has been heralded as one of the possible saviours of journalism in the internet age, but it’s taking its toll. In a recent New York Times article, the Chicago Tribune’s managing editor was quoted, “You can’t really avoid the fact that page views are increasingly the coin of the realm.” By juking headlines to drive search traffic, guiding coverage toward what is most popular, and endless promotion and “branding” for both media companies and individual journalists (definitely read that link), newspapers and magazines are doing whatever they can to stay relevant and solvent. One side effect, though, is that journalists are burning out younger than ever before. The 24 hour push for clicks, shares, and tweets, is driving young reporters into the ground. “At a paper, your only real stress point is in the evening when you’re actually sitting there on deadline, trying to file,” Jim VandeHei, Politico’s executive editor, told the New York Times. “Now at any point in the day starting at 5 in the morning, there can be that same level of intensity and pressure to get something out.”
“After careful consideration, we found it imperative to disqualify the photographer from the contest. The principle of World Press Photo is to promote high standards in photojournalism. Therefore, we must maintain the integrity of our organization even when the outcome is regrettable.” -Michiel Munneke, managing director of World Press Photo
Lens, PetaPixel, and BJP all have good coverage of the latest photo manipulation scandal in photojournalism: World Press Photo has disqualified Stepan Rudik, 3rd place Sports Features in the 2010 contest, for an ethics violation. Rudik removed an element of a picture (see the slideshow above) in violation of World Press Photo contest regulations against image alteration, specifically this rule: “The content of the image must not be altered. Only retouching which conforms to the currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed.” The object seems to stem from the removal of a person’s foot from the background of the picture, which Rudik defended to the BJP, saying, “the photograph I submitted to the contest is a crop, and the retouched detail is the foot of a man which appears on the original photograph, but who is not a subject of the image submitted to the contest.”
I’ve got to echo Asim Rafiqui: What a laughable extreme crop and toning job. Color and tilt correction in photoshop is one thing, moody vignetting in photoshop is another, but this is a whole new level of turning a crap photo into something entirely different. Wow. This, rather than the offending foot, is the bigger problem for the credibility of photojournalism.
The Associated Press has lately taken to strictly enforcing its copyrights and licenses, as it should, especially as regards search engines and news aggregators (the AP insists it isn’t going after bloggers…). The implementation, on the other hand, has been laughable. The latest development, the so-called “Protect, Point, Pay” DRM licensing system, has been given a brutal and deserved parody treatment. This comes as other institutions, including the New York Times, struggle to maintain cash flow to continue (profitable) news operations. David Simon, former Baltimore Sun writer and creator of The Wire, a vocal player in recent news industry ruminations, concludes that a paywall is the best chance for major newspapers’ survival. Rupert Murdoch agrees. Newspaper executives lately have been holding secret meetings trying to figure out how to maintain operational budgets, though always with a careful eye turned toward anti-trust and price-fixing laws. Newspapers want an anti-trust law exemption, which US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi supports but which the Obama administration opposes. Perhaps the news business should be one of those industries to which Bill Maher’s new rule apply: not everything in America must turn a profit.
In the meantime, the Associated Press has also rolled out their quotation licensing software, to hilarious results. One must pay the AP when quoting as little as 5 words from a story. Worse still, perhaps, James Grimmelmann of the Laboratorium, found the AP’s automated licensing software is braindead enough to accept money and grant a license to words not written or owned by the Associated Press. The AP revoked the license and issued a statement (“It is an automated form, thus explaining how one blogger got it to charge him for the words of a former president.”), to which Grimmelmann replies. Of course, Grimmelmann’s just trolling for attention and the AP did well to refund his money for an invalid license, but the organization’s tactics are drawing too much bad publicity.
The Associated Press’s motivations are well-founded. News costs money to produce, and there are numerous outlets using the AP’s reports without paying appropriate licensing fees. Worse, these aggregators receive money for ads placed alongside this content, thus making money off of the illegal/improper/infringing distribution of the AP’s copyrighted materials. But finding an elegant solution to this dilemma has proven quite difficult, and the Associated Press’s recent attempts have only exacerbated the problem.
As expected, Americans Laura Ling and Euna Lee were put on trial in North Korea and the pair have just been sentenced to 12 years “reform through labor” in a prison camp, according to the Korean Central News Agency. The pair were reporting on the China-North Korea border for CurrentTV when they were arrested and jailed. The Obama administration has said they are trying “all possible channels” to resolve the matter and secure the women’s release, but North Korea has become increasingly hostile to negotiations over the past weeks and months. Ling and Lee have become pawns in high stakes political negotiations, and it may cost them their lives. The prison camps in North Korea have an alarmingly high death rate, according to reports.
The New York Times Lens Blog has just published a heretofore unknown picture of the Tank Man from the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. AP reporter Terril Jones had been covering the demonstrations and snapped a picture of the famous confrontation between an unknown man and a line of tanks. The Lens blog has more details. I am quite surprised Jones had shown the picture only to friends previously.
Lens also interviewed 4 photographers who each got the iconic shot: Charlie Cole, Stuart Franklin, Jeff Widener, and Arthur Tsang Hin Wah. This is not to be missed; great behind-the-scenes stories about the shooting conditions and the difficulty of getting the pictures out (involving toilets and poorly-dressed hippies!). Youtube has video of the confrontation and the PBS Frontline documentary Tank Man explores contemporary Chinese perspectives on the famous photo.
James Fallows reports about his experience in Tiananmen Square the night before the 20th Anniversary this week and his wife’s the day of and Shanghaiist has video of plainclothes police interrupting international news reports with, of all things, umbrellas.
Meanwhile, BagNewsNotes has a dispatch from Alan Chin in Beijing on the Anniversary, ChinaBeat has a ton of contemporary and historical reporting on the 1989 events, and there’s plenty more. DanWei’s must-read China news is another great place for a variety of reporting and remembrance; I can’t link to search results, so you’ll just have to type in the words yourself. And here’s a couple of stories about information about 1989 slipping past China’s censors in the past couple of years. Magnum’s also got a small but interesting edit of a number of photographers’ pictures from Tiananmen.
Meanwhile, further south, it’s been a couple of days just like all others.
As the news industry continues to tank, dwindling fees have caused many to wonder when journalism (and photography) will become a pay-to-play game. Huffington Post has put another nail in the coffin of the notion of a paying career in journalism. Now, instead of just contributing to the site for free (where does that $20+ million in seed money go?), would-be Huffington Post writers can pay for the chance to be an intern at the site. The current bid is $13,000 for “two-three month[s]” interning for Huffington Post. The money raised in the auction will go to the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and there are 125 other “celebrity experiences” up for grabs in the auction.
German publishing company Jahreszeitenverlag, whose publications include “Merian”, “Für Sie”, “Petra”, “Feinschmecker,” trying to pull a fast one with a new contract forced on photographers in Germany. Previously, like any other decent contract, work done for Jahreszeitenverlag was fairly compensated and embargoed for a set period after which the photographer (the copyright owner) could resell the images or use them any way he or she wanted; if Jahreszeitenverlag’s magazines wanted to reuse the photos, a new sales fee would be determined and paid according to usage.
Recently the company has foisted a new contract on contributors, and it’s horrible. According to the new contract (which retains the photographer’s usual daily royalty fee of around 350 euros), ownership of all images taken for the assignment will pass to the publisher who commissioned this assignment; the photographer will no longer receive any royalties at all from subsequent use of the image material; second sales of the images will only be possible through the publishing company’s own syndication. Sounds like a royal screw job. German photographers have rightfully rejected the contract and are organizing under FreeLens, a German freelance photographers’ organization. But it gets worse.
Now the company has been preying on international contributors, likely unfamiliar with the Jahreszeitenverlag contract controversy. They’ve been sending off assignments rejected by German photographers to international contributors, hoping they can cut off the German photographers ability to negotiate the contract. Many photographers have asked their agencies to place an embargo on any dealings with Jahreszeitenverlag titles until the conflict is acceptably resolved.
There’s a little information about the dispute at Freelens (google translate), and there’s also a petition to Jahreszeitenverlag that’s nearing 3000 signatures from concerned members of the international and German photo community.
Do your part. Refuse any work from Jahreszeitenverlag. Add your name to the petition. Spread the word.
- Freelens press release: Jahreszeitenverlag is the “gravedigger of photojournalism” (original german)
- Interview with Freelens CEO Lutz Fischmann about the dispute (original german)